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Blair: Post-War Iraq Should Be Run by Broad-Based Goverment - 2003-04-02

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Iraqis should take over the government of their country as quickly as possible after coalition forces topple President Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Blair laid out a rough outline of how Iraq will make the transition from a one-party state under Saddam Hussein to a broad-based, democratic government.

Mr. Blair told Parliament that in the immediate aftermath of Saddam Hussein's fall, the U.S.-led coalition will form what he called a de facto administration of Iraq.

But he said he expects a U.N. resolution will have been passed before the war ends endorsing the framework for moving Iraq to a representative government.

"As soon as possible, Iraq should not be run either by the coalition or by the United Nations, it should be run by Iraqis. And it should be run by Iraqi people on the basis of a broadly representative government that protects human rights and that is committed to peace and stability in the region. And I am quite sure that is what the vast majority of the Iraqi people want to see," Mr. Blair said.

Mr. Blair said there will be problems getting U.N. support for the plan, but he believes the disputes can be overcome despite bitter the divisions on the U.N. Security Council about going to war in Iraq.

"The moment the conflict ends, it is important to have in place a U.N. resolution that governs the situation, so that we provide for both the humanitarian aid and also for the endorsement of any post-conflict Iraq. There will be difficulties as to when we make the transition to the Iraqi interim authority. But I think the one point that there is in common, whatever the differences, is that everybody understands that it has got to be U.N. endorsed," he explained.

On another topic, Mr. Blair said Saddam Hussein has plans to damage Shiite Muslim shrines in Karbala and Najaf, and then blame the attacks on coalition forces.

"I would like to emphasize to the House, and to the wider Arab and Muslim world, we are doing everything we can to protect those holy sites and shrines, and I hope that people understand that the fact that Saddam is prepared to use these tactics, as he did before, underlines, once again, the true nature of his regime," Mr. Blair said.

The prime minister also said his government will continue to maintain relations with Syria and Iran despite charges from Washington that those countries have interfered with the war effort in Iraq. Mr. Blair said Britain can use its influence to modify Syrian and Iranian behavior.